Ovens & Murray Advertiser

Desmond Zwar - October 20, 1931 to April 27, 2022


ON Wednesday, April 27, I lost my father - the author, journalist, and 16-handicap golfer, Desmond Zwar. He was 90. And his prose remained lean and powerful until the end.

Desmond grew up in Beechworth, boarded at Scotch College in Melbourne, where he was the star of the school shooting team and captain of Arthur Robinson House. After a stint working for his father at Zwar Bros tannery in Beechworth, he became a cadet journalist on The Albury Border Morning Mail before moving to the Melbourne Herald and then the Daily Mail, London.

There, he became one of Fleet’s Street’s leading feature writers, interviewi­ng the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin, and becoming a confidante of Frank Sinatra, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies.

One of his favourite assignment­s was on the Queen’s corgis - which earned him an invitation to dine at Buckingham Palace.

As the 1960s turned into the 70s, he moved from writing features to writing books.

There were best-sellers like The Loneliest Man in the World (about Rudolf Hess), In Search of Sir Keith Murdoch, and the runaway hit, Golf: The Dictionary.

He also wrote a book about his year on the golf tour with five-time British Open champion, Peter Thomson.

He’d lament that he started the tour playing off 14, but once Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino all tried to “help” him with his swing, he was suddenly playing off 21.

Des was pretty old school. Manners were big on his list - as was kindness and generosity. In the past week, so many people have told me how he put others before himself. And when it came to himself, his mantra was that he didn’t want to worry anyone.

Golf might have been Des’s passion - but he was actually great at cycling - competing for money against the Opperman brothers on country road races.

He was a natural leg spin bowler. And he once shot the head off a Taipan from 20m as it lunged at our beloved cat.

I didn’t inherit his dead eye with the rifle. When he came to teach me and my fellow scouts to shoot, I not only missed the target but broke the louvers of a nearby building.

The other thing I didn’t inherit was his ability with accents - yet I was the one who had the temerity to go on TV.

Desmond married Australian nurse turned journalist, Delphine Zwar, in London in 1967. They moved to Cairns, Queensland, in 1971, and spent the next 21 years there, before heading south to Melbourne and then Beechworth.

Delphine passed away in 2001 and Des dealt with his grief by throwing himself into charity, playing golf, and writing his memoir The Queen, Rupert and Me.

I know nothing about the after-life, but I’d like to think he was now with Mum. That’d be great.

Here’s to a sparking 90, Dad. So many beautiful shots. A couple of risky ones as well. But I’d rather that than a dour century.

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